In 2012, Mali almost collapsed under the combined pressure of a military coup and a Tuareg revolt. In the resulting chaos, terrorist groups took advantage of the situation to establish in the north of the country a seemingly Islamic theocracy where Sharia Law was the rule. These events provoked massive movements of moderate Muslims toward the south and the military intervention of France and African countries to destroy those terrorist groups. This situation was all-the-more surprising because a decade before Mali represented a model of democracy in Western Africa. Through a comparative-politics study of Mali, this thesis identifies the root causes of the Malians problem as well as factors that aggravated the already unstable situation in Mali. This thesis puts in perspective a deep domestic crisis fueled by historic ethnic grievances and the increasing disenfranchisement of one part of the population. On top of this crisis, geography, chronic corruption, religious extremism, and the colonial legacy of Mali exacerbated the intrinsic problems of Mali. In the end, understanding the true causes of the Malian crisis can help anticipate future ones in countries presenting the same characteristics as Mali. Even though the implications for other countries will be different, the process of escalation experienced by Mali provides a good example with which to compare other sub-Saharan countries, many of which present worrisome similarities with Mali.